‘Inhumane killing of fish’; Of Animal welfare & fisheries… (Dec. 2012)

ONLY a matter of time before public’s attention focused on ‘inhumane killing of fish’; Of Animal welfare & fisheries


Op-Ed first published on 09.12.2010

Those following closely the trends in consumer perceptions and environmental NGOs’ actions in the realm of fisheries and aquaculture have known this for a long time (and time is ticking by): “fish welfare” is the next ‘time bomb’.

Consumer awareness is increasing, slowly, when it comes to the ‘inhumane’ slaughtering of fish. This is an issue already tackled by the aquaculture industry (and one which makes quality – thus economic – sense: ‘properly’ killed salmon quality’s is greater than for those stressed when killed); but one which the fishing industry world-wide would rather ignore for the time-being. Afterall, it has enough issues to deal with (dwindling stocks, reducing quotas, increasing competition & regulatory burden), hasn’t it?! ‘Beware those who bury their heads in the tsunami’, could have said an ancient proverb…

Animal welfare is nonetheless certainly one of those issues which makes the public ‘tick’. Fish are specifically excluded from most animal welfare regulations, but for how long? Indeed, even if a fish is deemed to originate from an eco-certified stock; the way in which it dies will be one of the next – and powerful – argument in the environmental NGOs’ arsenal; particularly when it becomes a concerted effort.

Nevermind the fact that the swimming bladder pops out of the fish’s mouth when fished out at speed from the depths, does it not concern some consumers that the fish they eat has been slowly ‘asphyxiated’ and/or squashed to death? Lack of forward thinking may compromise the future well-being of many seafood ventures (sooner than one may think).

NGOs are often most successful in synergistically promoting sustainability targets when creating win-win stituations between industry & their conservation goals. And if the ‘humanity’ of (fish) killing remains broadly a moral issue, it nonetheless holds a convincing retail premium potential/argument.

Thus ‘a means to an end’ for many conservationists, and marketeers…

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